Els Keunen

Urban Planning Expert

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Els joined IHS in January 2015 as an Urban Planning Expert. Her main expertise is in urban planning related subjects, such as strategic planning; integrating spatial, socio-economic and environmental perspectives in multi-stakeholder planning processes; and urbanization processes and their related urban socio-spatial dynamics. Her research interests furthermore include residential mobility and migration as well as urban justice and inequality.

One of her tasks is teaching in the Master Programme Urban Management and Development. She coordinates and teaches the Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and PPPs course and the Cities and Migration elective. She is furthermore involved as a lecturer in the Urban Strategies and Planning specialization course, the GIS Methods for Urban Research elective and the Research Workshop Urban Socio-Spatial Dynamics. She also supervises Master theses.

Apart from teaching in the Master Programme, Els also has been involved in various research projects. Between 2017 and 2020, she was a researcher in the ‘Spatial Inequality in Times of Urban Transitions: Complex Land Markets in Uganda and Somaliland’ research project, which was funded by the East African Research Fund (DfID) and implemented by IHS in consortium with University College London and IPE Tripleline. In 2016, Els was part of a research team at IHS which carried out research titled ‘The urban expansion and compactness debate in the context of Mozambique’, an assignment for Cities Alliance. In 2015, she was involved in a desk study on supporting cities to address institutional bottlenecks for inclusive local economic development for the German Development Agency (GIZ).

Other activities that Els has undertaken include the co-development and implementation of a 4-module training in Lebanon in 2019. It concerned a training on strategic spatial planning processes for urban advocacy purposes for NAHNOO, an organisation of urban activists. Between 2017 and 2019, she also worked with 6 municipalities in Mozambique to improve their building permit processes, an assignment for GIZ, the German Development Agency. She also did a validation of GIZ urban projects’ portfolio analysis which included recommendations for the urban sector concept paper. She is currently involved in the development and implementation of a tailor-made training on improving food security governance from a spatial perspective for Kumi University in Uganda.

Els holds a Master’s degree in Architecture and an Additional Master’s degree in Cultures and Development Studies. She is currently doing her PhD in International Urbanism on the topic of residential mobility in Kampala.

Before joining IHS, Els worked for the German Development Agency. For 4 years, she advised 3 municipalities in the centre of Mozambique in the area of urban planning. Before that, she worked for over 2 years in Uganda through the Belgian Development Agency (BTC) in the Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP), an urban upgrading project in 3 neighbourhoods in Kampala.